Seeing what’s always there


Art can show you what’s right there in front of you, but you don’t really see it, you aren’t fully aware of it, until art represents it. This passage from Wittgenstein is confusingly worded, but I’m sure he meant “imagine a curtain goes up and you see yourself, walking up and down, lighting a cigarette, sitting down. . . ”

Let us imagine a theatre; the curtain goes up and we see a man alone in a room, walking up and down, lighting a cigarette, sitting down, etc. so that suddenly we are observing a human being from outside in a way that ordinarily we can never observe ourselves; it would be like watching a chapter of a biography with our own eyes — surely this would be uncanny and wonderful at the same time. We should be observing something more wonderful than anything a playwright could arrange to be acted or spoken on the stage: life itself.

But then we do see this every day without its making the slightest impression on us!


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